Leadership and Mentorship

What do you do? How long have you worked in this field?

I’m the director of training and Development for Payscape. I’ve been with the company since October 2017. However, I’ve been training for about 15 years in one capacity or another.

What have been your significant takeaways?

The difference between someone who can impact people and someone who’s just reading a script is the ability to connect with people and understand that different people learn in different ways.

How would you describe leadership in your own words?

Leadership is garnering the respect and trust of others that you’ll take them to where they want to go. Sometimes the traditional perception of leadership is just one person in charge, and everyone else follows. That’s not leadership. The more leaders we create, the better. Leaders produce good leaders and impact people. Their followers say, “hey, I’m going to follow that person because I have confidence that this person is going to help me get there. And when I get there, that person is going to push me to be better." The power of impact is the difference. When I teach my classes, I say, “I expect everybody in this room to have leadership potential because you can impact someone some way and that benefits all of us."

It’s also the idea that you don’t have to have a title to be a leader. It’s not always the head coach of a team or the captain. It’s that person that people don’t know but everybody respects.

Have you ever had a mentor?

I’ve had a couple of mentors... some bad, but I’ve had some really good ones. I think mentorship is really important and you have to find people who can teach you. Going back to your leadership question, you have to be a good follower. Humble yourself to find information and continue to learn.

Everywhere I go, I try to find somebody who is doing what I want to do or has accomplished something I haven’t done to get as much information from them that I can. I have a great mentor at my current company. I have some great ones at my previous company. We all have at least one or two. If you don’t have one, you need to seek one. Nobody gets anywhere without some help from somebody.

Were you ever intentionally seeking a mentor? Did you pick the leaders who were closest to you?

In any situation, I’m looking for whoever’s best at what I’m looking to do. It’s a lot easier and more beneficial to have someone on your side of influence.

What are some strategies you use to seek a mentor intentionally?

I do the research, I find out who’s doing what, and I go seek them: “Hey can I get five minutes to talk? Can I ask you a few questions?” Often, when you're seeking out a mentor or an opportunity in general, you have to seize it! Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not, but it is always beneficial.

If you’re lucky enough and if you work hard, there will be people who’ll want to take you under their wing. But you can’t just sit there and wait for it. People who are where you want to be are looking for the drive in you. They are looking for people who are looking to seize an opportunity.

For undergraduates, what skills would pose a challenge to building a network?

I think that sometimes students are trapped in their social circles and they don’t know how to network. Depending on your study, it's not always a skill that’s taught. In terms of opening doors and situations, it can be hard to get started. But once again, it’s about seizing that opportunity, joining different groups, doing what you can, and just asking questions. Don’t be afraid of asking questions. Even if you can’t find an opportunity, you can create one. But getting started is probably the biggest obstacle.

Are there some challenges that have resonated with your sales trainees when it comes to being outgoing and getting clients?

Sure. Some people are more naturally outgoing than others, personality-wise, but it’s also about the work ethic. Even if you're not a naturally courageous person, if you go out and knock on doors and talk to people, you’ll learn a lot. The first door is the hardest door, and the first call is the hardest call. It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone constantly. Also, no matter how many times you do it, there will always be uncomfortable times. Just keep pushing forward and keep a positive attitude!

Are professional groups and associations beneficial?

Networking and having the opportunity to make connections is always beneficial. You never know which relationships can help you out later on. People try to define and put things in boxes, but we’re all networking. Even your apartment complex is a network. I go to the same grocery store all the time and they know me over there. That’s a network too.

More about the interviewee:

Isaac Acquah

Director of Training and Development